Disclaimer: I think we all know how this goes. Everything belongs to JKR and I'm only borrowing it.
He glanced at the invitation for what must have been the hundredth time. It was still shocking. The fact that the blessed event was taking place was not the shocking part. Everyone knew that it was just a matter of time before this day came. What was shocking was the fact that he had received an invitation. There must have been some mistake. And if it wasn't a mistake then it was the cruelest trick he could think of.
He couldn't bear to look at it anymore. The perfectly spaced handwriting mocked him from the crisp parchment it had lovingly been printed on. The papers were hailing it as the social event of the season. This had made the young wizard laugh. Social event of the season or not, spending a day surrounded by the nearest and dearest of people one had come to despise long ago didn't sound like an activity a sane individual jumped at the chance of.
The wizard picked up a quill and the parchment that had been provided for a response. He hesitated several time, lowering the quill and pulling it away for what seemed like hours before scrawling: I am, regretfully, unable to attend. ~Draco Lucius Malfoy
He placed the quill on his desk and leaned back in the large chair that sat behind it. He picked up the invitation one final time.
Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell Ganger are proud to announce the marriage of their daughter, Miss Hermione Jean Granger, to Mr. Ronald Bilius Weasley. The joyous union will be held on the 25th of August at the home of the groom's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Weasley. The couple requests your presence to help celebrate this happy occasion.
Draco gave a small snort and crumpled the invitation and his response into a ball before throwing both into the roaring fire that was heating his study.
"Joyous union. Humph" he muttered under his breath as he watched the parchment turn to ash.
"Did you say something Malfoy?"
The sound of the other voice made him jump. Draco had been lost in thought and had forgotten about the witch who had fallen asleep on the other side of the room.
"Sorry, didn't mean to wake you" he said softly. "Go back to sleep Raynes."
Calpurnia Raynes looked at her employer through sleepy eyes before falling back into her slumber. She was sprawled out in the impressive leather chair that had once belonged to Malfoy Manor's previous owner, one Lucius Malfoy.
Of all the items he had purged from the house since he inherited it, that chair was the one belonging of his father's that Draco had never been able to sell or destroy. Perhaps it was due to the fact that the chair was the one thing from his father's existence that had ever provided a small comfort to Draco in his childhood. Or perhaps it was because Raynes was always sitting or sleeping in it and he never had the chance. Either way, it sat there next to the fire place year after year.
Calpurnia Raynes was a short yet formidable witch. Standing just over five feet tall Draco had never seen her back down from anyone. Although the witch hadn't always come out on top in her life she was still standing. Despite the ups and downs their relationship had gone through Draco had come to trust her more than anyone. She had been hired as his assistant at Gringgots Wizarding Bank when he had been appointed as liaison to the ministry by the Goblins.
Draco felt guilty about keeping her away from her loved ones as much as he did, but Raynes provided him with the stability that his life often lacked. Two years earlier Draco had hired Calpurnia as his full time assistant, both at the bank and for his daily life. She helped to maintain the Manor and did her bit to keep sanity a part of his life. In the past months Draco had come to fear that the day would soon come when Raynes would move on and find a larger purpose in life.
He knew that if she spent as much time around him as she was doing now that the unhappiness that hung over his head would consume her as well. This he could not allow. He cared too deeply for her and owed her too much to sit by and watch Raynes continue to become an empty shell. He would try to push her away and offer her more time off to escape from all the trouble being his assistant brought with it, but had so far been unsuccessful.
The clock in the hall clanged softly altering Draco that it was almost two in the morning. He shook his head as he watched Raynes sleep by the fire. Walking over to her he spoke softly.
"Raynes, it's getting late." The witch made no sound so he crouched down next to her and shook her foot. "Cal, time to go home." Raynes rolled in the chair and rubbed the sleep from her eyes.
"Whas wrong?" she asked in a groggy voice.
Draco gave a small chuckle. "What's wrong is that Mafalda is going to have my head if I keep you here past two again." He pointed to his watch as his trusted assistant looked at him in confusion.
"Past two?" she asked alarmed as she sat up. "Merlin's Beard! I should have been home ages ago."
Draco stood up to give her room to put the boots she had kicked of in her sleep back on. "Why don't you take tomorrow and rest. We've been burning the late oil this past week and you're no good to me if you're exhausted."
Raynes removed her cloak from the back of the chair and threw it over her shoulders as she stood. "Are you sure? We have a lot to do before the end of the month. There's the estate in London to settle and you want to have that auction to…"
"Raynes" Draco lifted his hand and cut her off. "I think I can manage things without you for twenty-four hours. I've done it before."
A smirk crept across the witch's tired face. "And we all know how well that worked out." She looked at herself in the mirror over the fireplace's mantle and pushed her dark curls out of her face. "All right, the papers on your desk still need to be signed and the invitation for the wedding needs to be replied to and you have a meeting tomorrow at eleven with the investors from Warwick."
Draco nodded his head. "Already signed, already replied, and I wont forget."
Calpurnia looked impressed. "Look at you. I'm starting to think you might be able to run your life without me."
"Someday" he muttered under his breath but Raynes didn't hear.
"So what did you decide then? About the wedding I mean." Draco just stared at her blankly. "I'll take that to mean you won't be joining Mafalda and me for the happy occasion."
"Why on earth why I want to watch those two get married?"
Raynes shrugged. "To build unity in the community. To show that you're not your father. Or hell, to get drunk on the Weasley knut."
"All good reasons" he agreed, "but, I'll leave you to make an appearance on my behalf."
Calpurnia snorted. "I am not going to this wedding in a professional capacity. Whether you like it or not I'm linked to them because Mafalda is and that is why I am going. Plus the part about getting drunk on the Weasley knut seems appealing."
"All right, forget I said anything. Just go home and get some rest. I will see you next week."
Raynes nodded in agreement before disapparting with a small pop leaving Draco alone in his study. Another glance at the time told him that he should get some rest as well. If he was going to learn to function without Raynes in his life he couldn't think of a better time to start; and taking care of himself was top of the list.
Hope you enjoyed. More to come as soon as it is polished a bit more. ~Slags